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Penn State Mourns Loss Of Communications Professor Curt Chandler

Penn State’s Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications suffered a major loss when associate teaching professor Curt Chandler died of cancer on January 31.

Chandler, a multimedia and entrepreneurial journalism instructor at Penn State, quietly battled pancreatic cancer since receiving a terminal diagnosis in May, all while balancing his passions for teaching and storytelling. He was 64.

“Those of you who had the chance to learn from him know: He was generous, he was enthusiastic, and he was connected and current,” Bellisario Dean Marie Hardin wrote in an email to students early Tuesday morning. “He was the kind of teacher who made a difference in the lives of students he taught, making himself available around the clock. He encouraged you to stretch your imagination and do work you never dreamed you could do.”

Before teaching at Penn State, Chandler worked as an award-winning photojournalist for outlets across Colorado, Utah, and Ohio before settling down as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s director of photography, later becoming the paper’s first editor for online innovation. He would later spend 15 years teaching students after he was a founding faculty member of Penn State’s Keystone Multimedia Workshop in 2007.

At Penn State, Chandler taught COMM 271 (Principles of Journalism), COMM 481 (Advanced Multimedia Production), and COMM 361 (Entrepreneurial Journalism). He also helped spearhead efforts for the Centre Film Festival and extracurricular efforts like Centre News Digest.

“Curt’s enthusiasm for journalism was matched only by his enthusiasm for his students. He was full of great story ideas, and he pushed his students to do their best work,” said Russ Eshleman, associate teaching professor and journalism department head. “No matter if it was along a rural stretch of Potter County, in the hubbub of a Baltimore neighborhood or the streets of Hong Kong, he always looked for ways to help students succeed.”

Outside of teaching, Chandler was a consistent advocate for student media, including once-up-and-coming projects like Onward State. Over the years, Chandler profoundly impacted the lives and careers of countless Onward Staters.

“Curt Chandler was a supporter of Onward State for as long as there’s been an Onward State,” said co-founder Davis Shaver.

Chandler is survived by his wife, Stacie Lynn Paulsen Chandler; his four children; his three grandchildren; as well as his sister and brother. An obituary written by the Bellisario College is available online.

“I want you to know that I am thinking of all of you during this sad time for the College,” Hardin wrote. “Your professors and I welcome your thoughts, your stories, and your memories. We are planning an event later this month to honor Curt, and you’ll get details about that so we can remember him as a community.”

Penn State plans to hold a memorial service for Chandler at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Bellisario College’s Chandler Grant for Storytelling or the Family House in Pittsburgh, according to the college.

“We are, after all, a stronger and better community because of Curtis William Chandler,” Hardin wrote to students.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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